Right-hander Rocky Coppinger has not been right since the final week of spring training, but he was visibly upset when he was informed yesterday that he was being optioned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He was so upset that he would not comment on his demotion.
RTC "I've got nothing to say," he said as he rumbled -- red-eyed -- out of the clubhouse.
Manager Davey Johnson had a lot to say. He said the decision should have been made sooner and Coppinger should benefit from the opportunity to pitch his way back into shape away from the pressure that comes with trying to produce at the major-league level.
"He needs to go down to Rochester and throw a couple of games to get back on track," Johnson said. "We should have done this at the outset. I feel it's hard to get on track up here. Maybe some work down there -- where they can afford to leave him out there longer -- will help him."
The Orioles called up late-inning reliever Brian Williams, a 28-year-old right-hander who was signed as a minor-league free agent this winter. He has been pitching very well in the closer roll in Rochester, but probably will pitch in middle and setup relief at the major-league level.
Johnson quickly named Rule 5 draftee Mike Johnson to replace Coppinger in the starting rotation. Johnson has been impressive out of the bullpen. He has appeared in five games and has a 1.88 ERA and two saves.
"He's been great," Davey Johnson said. "He has thrown the ball well and done everything we have asked of him. He continued to throw well after the great spring he had. He deserves the opportunity to start."
The Orioles got a scare when shortstop Mike Bordick rolled his right foot covering second on Dan Wilson's delayed steal in the ninth inning.
Bordick looked like he sprained his ankle, and stayed down long enough to send a shiver through the already shivering crowd, but he eventually got up and remained in the game.
If Bordick had been forced out, Jeff Reboulet probably would have replaced him at shortstop.
Seattle second baseman Joey Cora homered and doubled in his first two at-bats yesterday, stretching his string of hits to eight and tying the Mariners' record.
Cora, who had a base hit in his last at-bat on Thursday night and went 5-for-5 on Friday night, joins Harold Reynolds (1988), Darnell Coles (1988) and Ken Griffey (1989) as the only Mariners players to go 8-for-8.
Cora, who came into the season with 13 homers in 2,558 major-league at-bats, homered in back-to-back games against the Orioles, including the first of his career right-handed Friday // night against Arthur Rhodes.
Where's the boss?
Davey Johnson arrived unusually late at the ballpark yesterday, but had a ready excuse.
"Nobody told me about the Preakness Day Parade downtown," he said. "I took my usual route, down I-83, but when I got off the St. Paul Street exit, nothing moved. I saw Cal Ripken stuck a couple of cars ahead of me.
"I thought about walking to the park. I know I committed several traffic violations to finally get here."
Walton goes for exam
Outfielder Jerome Walton has been sent to Birmingham, Ala., to visit with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews. Walton continues to be troubled by chronic groin and hamstring soreness and has been treated by Andrews in the past. He became eligible to come off the disabled list yesterday, but probably will not be returning for at least the next week.
More medical updates
Jeffrey Hammonds told Johnson he wanted to play yesterday, but the trainers apparently advised against pushing his abdominal strain. "The trainers said it's ready to blow," Johnson said.
Eric Davis still is day-to-day with a hamstring strain. He took batting practice yesterday, but is unable to run without restriction yet.
Chris Hoiles was the designated hitter yesterday after being hit on the wrist by a pitch in Friday night's game.
Around the horn
Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez singled in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest hitting streak in the majors this year. It was only the second time in 22 games that the Orioles lost when leading after seven innings. The Orioles have given up more runs in the first inning (25) than in any other. Right fielder Jay Buhner was out of the starting lineup yesterday. He has been struggling, with four strikeouts Friday, and is just 4-for-24 against Scott Kamieniecki.
Hits and misses
On the field: The Orioles manufactured a run from almost nothing to tie the game in the fourth inning. Pete Incaviglia reached base on an error. Chris Hoiles walked. B. J. Surhoff moved both runners up with a bunt and Lenny Webster brought home Incaviglia with a sacrifice fly. Isn't that the same way they did it last year?
In the dugout: Manager Davey Johnson had very little to work with on the bench. Eric Davis still is hobbled by a hamstring injury and Jeffrey Hammonds has a touchy abdominal strain. The only position players available were reserve outfielder Tony Tarasco -- who entered the game as a pinch runner in the eighth -- and utility man Jeff Reboulet.
In the clubhouse: Johnson would not speculate on how the roster would be configured when the club gets a little healthier. "I'm not going to say anything," he said. "You can conjecture or whatever you do all you want, but I'm not going to tell you anything."
Pub Date: 5/11/97